PARENTS, RELEASE FORMS AND TEXAS LAW: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
No matter what activity a child is participating in, parents will likely be asked to sign a waiver at some point. These waivers are intended to relieve the host of liability should the child be injured in an accident. Against their better judgment, parents sometimes feel pressured into signing these waivers, and then later regret it when their child is injured. Those who have found themselves in such a predicament should know that signing such a waiver does not necessarily preclude them from recovering damages.
In Texas, parents are unable to sign away the rights of their children via a release form. Instead, courts must approve these waivers for anyone who is 17 years of age of under. This holds true, regardless of whether or not the waiver was signed before or after an injury. As such, operators can normally be held liable for damages whenever a child is injured, provided the criteria for determining negligence can be established.
Why Sign a Waiver?
The question many people ask about release forms is “why am I being asked to sign a waiver when it doesn’t apply anyway?” There are several possible answers for this question, including:
- It makes the facility owner feel good, because he or she believes lawsuits will not happen
- A company is pressured to provide release forms by their insurance carrier
- Companies are hoping that “high risk” individuals will choose not to sign the form, and therefore not participate in a particular activity
- The other party knows the waiver is invalid, but hopes the client will not realize this, and therefore not pursue a lawsuit
Can I Refuse to Sign?
Since children’s rights cannot be waived, another question that is commonly asked is whether or not a parent can refuse to sign release forms altogether. This will depend on the vendor, as some companies will not allow a child to participate in a given activity unless there is a waiver on file. If a waiver can be avoided, it could save parents a great deal of hassle later, because they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of arguing that the release form was invalid in the first place.
Waivers are not totally useless, as they do serve as a sort of warning to participants that an activity comes with certain hazards. Even so, companies may not rely on them as protection from claims of negligence by parents of injured children.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Watching your injured child suffer is one of the most difficult things you can do as a parent. Just because you signed a release form doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take legal action. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options today. Call 713.766.5400 and schedule your free case evaluation.